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Back to Testimony on the Intermodal Transportation Center

Transportation Feasibility Study for the
Intermodal Transportation Center
April 1999




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Executive Summary
Transportation Feasibility Study for the Intermodal Transportation Center

April 1999

Submitted to the District of Columbia Department of Public Works

Submitted by: KPMG Peat Marwick, L.L.P.
DeLeuw, Cather & Co., P.C.
Delon Hampton Associates, Chartered
Gorove/Slade Associates, Inc.


The objective of the Feasibility Study for the Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC) is to identify opportunities and constraints for development of a facility at a Downtown East site bounded by New York Avenue, 4th Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and 6th Street. The intent of the Feasibility Study is to evaluate the site in terms of parking supply and demand, structural and civil engineering constructability, transportation infrastructure requirements and order-of-magnitude costs. The study objective did not include performing detailed design or environmental analyses. The concept of an ITC in the Downtown East section of Washington, D.C. has been suggested in several recent reports including the New York Avenue Development Report, the Interactive Downtown Task Force report entitled, A Vision And Action Plan To Revitalize The Heart Of Washington, D.C., and the Transportation Plan for the District of Columbia: A Transportation Vision, Strategy and Action Plan For the Nation's Capital.

Preliminary Findings

Parking Demand

  • The results of an inventory of existing off-street parking supply in the area bounded by Rhode Island Avenue to the north, New Jersey Avenue and 2nd Street to the east, Constitution Avenue to the south, and 14th Street to the west indicated that the existing parking supply is adequate for existing use and for concurrent weekday events at the MCI Center, the New Washington Convention Center, and Opera House which are programmed to be open within the next few years.
  • Development expected to occur within the next five years (imminent) will place an additional demand on parking supply in the area. Concurrent weekday events at the New Washington Convention Center, the MCI Center, and the Opera House, will render an overall deficit of 100 spaces. Without concurrent events at these venues, 2,300 spaces are projected to be available within the entire geographic study area. Evening and weekend parking supply yields approximately 11,000 and 20,300 available spaces, with and without events, considering these three venues.
  • Development programmed to occur within a ten-year time frame (short-term) will result in 700 spaces available during the weekdays, without concurrent MCI, New Washington Convention Center, and Opera House events. With concurrent operations of the three venues, a projected deficit of 1,700 spaces is forecasted. Evening and weekend parking supply yields approximately 11,100 and 20,400 available spaces, with and without events, considering these three venues.
  • Development and the associated parking supply and demand beyond the ten-year time frame (mid-term) are speculative. Projections indicate that without concurrent MCI, New Washington Convention Center, and Opera House events during a weekday, 400 spaces in the overall study area will be available. With concurrent operations of the three venues, a projected deficit of 2,000 spaces would be anticipated. Evening and weekend parking supply yields approximately 11,500 and 20,800 available spaces, with and without events, considering these three venues.
  • Given the vision that downtown Washington may be transformed into an Urban Entertainment Destination (UED), assessment of the impact of the UED on parking demand was analyzed. The UED concept envisions an additional seven million square feet of retail and entertainment uses. To determine mid-term parking demand with the UED in place, an analysis was conducted which superimposed imminent-, short- and mid-term development potential parking demands onto the UED parking demand. On a weekday basis (in the critical time period) UED development in downtown Washington will require 10,700 parking spaces.
  • The issue of mismatch in parking supply versus parking demand should be addressed. If sufficient parking is not required in the Downtown Development (DD) District (zoning overlay) and if development does not provide for patron and employee parking needs, parking deficits will increase. The current District of Columbia zoning regulations and parking policies include an objective to obtain a 70/30 mode split. That is, 70 percent public transportation and 30 percent automobile. It is envisioned that the ITC will support this mode- split policy by providing for intermodal connectivity and by implementing parking management and pricing strategies to control and limit the amount of long-term employee parking.
  • Zoning Regulations could be modified to reflect changes in policy that could include elements of the following:

  • Set both minimum and maximum parking requirements for all developments, even those included within the DD District.
  • Allow, but not require, on-site parking. Establishment of a parking fund.
  • Establish a Parking Authority for the District of Columbia in accordance with DC Law 10-153.


Traffic Access and Circulation

  • Under Option A, the total parking area of 2.2 million square feet could accommodate approximately 7,200 vehicles. More extensive roadway modifications are needed to accommodate this option of the ITC, such as ramping between I-395 and the ITC.
  • Option B of the ITC would yield approximately 625,000 square feet of parking garage with 2,000 spaces. Improvements to the roadway infrastructure, such as turn lanes primarily on 5th Street will facilitate the traffic flow associated with the ITC.
  • Apart from improvements directly associated with the ITC, a separate study, New York Avenue Development Report, identified additional improvements to New York Avenue including a tunnel from New York Avenue to I-395. The Option A traffic analysis assumes that this $340- $600 million improvement is funded and constructed by others.

Land Use Compatibility

  • The site studied encompasses six development squares on approximately 17 acres.
  • Major buildings on the site include the House of Ruth, the Museum Square Apartments, and the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service Building.
  • Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act requirements will be an issue with the construction of an ITC at this site. Specific attention would be given to the House of Ruth and an assessment of the visual affects any construction would have on National Register eligible buildings, structures and districts in the project vicinity.


Preliminary cost estimates were prepared for both Option A and Option B of the ITC. Cost estimates do not include the value of the buildings currently on the site or relocation costs. In addition, land value costs assume a $25 per square foot cost for the "footprint" of the parcels only. The land values do not include consideration of the floor area ratios that could dramatically increase the land costs by several times the footprint cost.

  • ITC Option A (7,200 space) — approximately $289 million.
  • ITC Option B (2,000 space) — approximately $75 million.

Financial analysis for Option B (2,000 spaces) shows that the net annual revenue would be $4.7 million. Assuming that a public entity would implement the ITC, $4.7 million per year in net revenue would support financing of about $54 million at a 6% interest rate. This amounts to $22,500 per space. Should a private entity implement the ITC, about $33 million would be available for ITC construction, or $16,500 per space.

Funding Options

The funding options for the ITC may be pursued through three primary financing arrangements. These could be pursued in combination, to create a financing package. The implementation plan would most likely feature elements of each funding option.

District government funding through a parking authority; Federal payments/grants through an earmark in the reauthorization of the transportation program; and Public/private initiative

Additional Issues to be Addressed

While the technical analysis shows that the construction of an ITC is feasible at this site, there are several issues that need to be addressed. These issues include, but are not limited to:

  • Financial/Funding
  • Transportation
  • Development
  • Socio-economic and Historic Resources

Following is a description of each of the issues listed above and some key points that need to be addressed. Many of these points go beyond the scope of this study and would be addressed in more detailed technical studies and a draft environmental impact statement.


Funding plays a key role in considering the feasibility of an ITC in the District of Columbia. There are several financial issues that must be addressed.

  1. The ITC concept can not be viewed in the same terms as a traditional parking garage. The ITC has a cost structure which is increased by the following conditions:
    • All parking is built below-grade which maximizes cost per space;
    • The parking structure is constructed to provide a foundation for significant real estate development to occur on the site footprint;
    • Land costs applied to the parking structure are not currently related to the highest value land use for the parcel, which would probably be high quality mixed use development;
    • The parking structure will require substantial access improvements to the I-395/New York Avenue intersection. Both the parking structure and area-wide traffic flow conditions necessitate a regional solution to this key intersection in downtown Washington D.C., which adds substantial costs to the project;
    • The location of the ITC makes it a key element in a number of development scenarios: the New Convention Center, East-West transportation corridor - New York Avenue Development, development of Mount Vernon Square and a possible connection to the old Convention Center, and a possible baseball stadium. As such, the actual costs of interfacing the ITC with possible other development projects hinges on the approach taken on other development options. Additionally, not building the ITC may negatively impact these development options.
  2. The internal circulation plan (The ITC and associated access improvements) should become part of the District's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) which competes for Federal Transit Administration funds. The ITC could compete for Federal Transit
    Administration funds as a joint development project with a transit purpose, i.e., intermodal center with a parking component to collect and disperse trips to the circulator; thereby, limiting auto traffic in the District core.
  3. The ITC project could compete for federal grant funding as a transportation demonstration project which featured intermodal connections and joint development to generate economic development.
  4. Land costs for the 17 acre parcel are an initial consideration in moving redevelopment of the site from concept to implementation.
  5. The land assembly process may be accomplished through asset management, which would involve land swaps of District-owned parcels for the parcels in the 17 acre site. This is predicated on the availability and willingness of the District to invest in the project.
  6. The other alternative is to view the ITC project as a redevelopment project. This would require a redevelopment corporation to acquire the parcels and then issue an RFP for site development.
  7. If the site is developed through a redevelopment corporation via an RFP process, there will have to be strict direction that ensures a unified garage under the six development parcels. The redevelopment corporation will have to control the design- construction-interface of each underground facility to ensure a single ITC.
  8. The redevelopment of the parcel can not initially rely on tax increment financing (TIF) since there is not any development upon which to base an increment. TIF financing could be implemented in a district which would generate revenue downstream to assist in project financing.
  9. Should the District wish to move forward with a municipal parking program of which the ITC may be the initial project, a newly created District Parking Authority ideally would receive a share of revenues from meters, parking fines, as well as revenues from facility operations to move forward financially as a self-supporting entity.


Roadway Network Improvements

Due to the size and complexity of an ITC, there are several transportation improvements that will need to be made in order to accommodate traffic flow into and out of the site. While there are several minor improvements listed in the study, such as adding right and left turn lanes at a few key locations, improvements and modifications to provide direct connections with I-395 are much more significant. Preliminary estimates for improvements to I-395 indicate that the costs will be approximately $15.4 million. These are in addition to improvements to construct a tunnel from New York Avenue to I-395, which are presented as recommended improvements in other studies and not related to the construction of an ITC at this site.

While the transportation improvements listed in this study will facilitate vehicular flow associated with the ITC, it should be noted that other circulation improvements, proposed by other studies, could affect traffic flow to and from the ITC. As such, the recommendations listed in this study might need to change to reflect modifications to the roadway network when the construction of an ITC becomes imminent.

Transportation Modes

In addition to transportation improvements to the roadway network, decisions regarding the intermodal nature of the facility are needed. Tour bus parking at the site is a possibility, and such parking is needed in the District. To facilitate tour buses, however, the decision would need to be made in advance of design work, so that the appropriate accommodations could be made for buses. This would include incorporating larger turning radii arid larger parking spaces in portions of the facility.

Additional recommendations from other studies include incorporating bus stops and future circulator trolley stops within the ITC. Facilities to incorporate these transit modes should be included in the design of an ITC. The circulator-trolley system linkage would be a necessary part of the ITC Comprehensive Intermodal Strategy. A linkage is required to nearby Metrorail stations (e.g., Gallery Place, Mount Vernon/UDC and Metro Center).

The parking component of the ITC project should be viewed in the context of an internal circulation plan for the District. In this plan, the ITC provides "intercept parking" and accommodates intermodal transfers (e.g., trolley, Metro, walking, inter-city bus, Tour Mobiles, shuttles) throughout the District.

The ITC could become an important node in the internal circulation plan within the District of Columbia. It could become the inner beltway in a transportation system functionally related to Metro which performs the distribution function along with the road network. This type of intermodalism allows greater modal choice.


The development of an ITC at the particular site studied in this report, requires the purchase of six development squares in a section of Downtown East. As described in this report, there is a variety of existing development currently located on these squares. For the purposes of this Feasibility study, it was assumed that this property could be purchased and the existing buildings on the property would be demolished to accommodate the construction of the ITC. Determining the feasibility of purchasing the affected properties and demolition of existing buildings were not included as part of this study. Individual owners will need to be approached regarding sale of their property. In addition, there are also outstanding plans for development in this area that need to be addressed from a comprehensive planning standpoint.

One example of a planned development in this area is the Salvation Army Planned Unit Development (PUD). Should the District decide to construct an ITC in this location, plans for the Salvation Army PUD at this site need to be addressed accordingly, and perhaps a new location found for the Salvation Army's development. Current uses in the area include the Museum Square apartments, which were constructed in 1980 and the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Service Building.

Socio-Economic and Historic Resources

Due to some of the existing uses at the proposed site, arrangements to relocate and/or accommodate existing land uses will be required. These existing land uses include the Museum Square apartments, as described above, as well as the House of Ruth which is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Next Steps

The purpose of this report was to perform a Feasibility study for the construction of an Intermodal Transportation Center at the site bounded by New York Avenue, 4th Street, Massachusetts Avenue, and 6th Street. There are several steps that need to be undertaken to bring the ITC development to fruition. Listed below are some of the steps that need to be taken to continue the process towards the development and construction of an ITC at this site:

  1. Identification and establishment of an entity to carry the project forward. This may include the establishment of a Parking Authority and/or a Development Authority;
  2. Identification of reasonable funding sources and financial mechanisms;
  3. Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) followed by a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). The Environmental Impact Statement process would cost approximately $1-$2 million and take approximately 12 to 18 months to complete. Several of the issues that were not addressed or were mentioned briefly in this Feasibility study would need to be studied more thoroughly in this process, such as air quality, noise, Section 106, and consistency with comprehensive planning goals within the Downtown East sector of the District;
  4. Land acquisition and condemnations;
  5. Modification of zoning regulations;
  6. Planning and Design Approvals from the District of Columbia, National Capital Planning Commission and others;
  7. Preliminary/final engineering and design;
  8. Programmatic/development decisions affecting the ITC; and
  9. Construction.

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